New York State Funeral Directors Association

A “grand“ light fixture made of human bones draws much attention in this article I read about the Sedlec Ossuary located in the Czech Republic.

It’s in the Tech section of “Business Insider” online – don’t ask me why, there’s little “Tech” in the article, and even less technology in this disgrace of a display that the article suggests is used as a church. I won’t believe that, even if it’s true.

I won’t add a link to the article to this Blog post – I don’t want any bad Karma that lingers to stick to these electronic pages.

I feel I have to include some photos. I found some, thanks to Wikipedia, and blurred out the faces of all these people’s skeletons out of decency.

The site apparently got its start as a cemetery back in the 1200s.

The centuries that followed featured the horrible Plague that wiped out millions of people – leading to the need to do something with all those bones.

Digging some new cemetery space somehow didn’t make it to the top of the list of choices. And they apparently hadn’t figured out the high-tech shelving we use today to respectfully house cremated remains – columbaria.

I could say it’s a horrific display of how humans, centuries ago, could treat the #Unliving – the remains of fellow human beings who aren’t among the living anymore.

Times were different back in the late-1800s when some famous woodcarver was commissioned by some rich people to turn the bones into artwork for the chapel building they’re all currently decorating.

Well, when I think about it, times weren’t that different. People were having funerals for their loved ones and burying them in cemeteries by then, at least they were, over here in the U.S.

Perhaps the #Unliving people on display died in the 1200s when it was considered no big thing to hang other people’s skulls and bones around the house for the novelty of it.

A Chandelier made of Bones and Skulls in Sedlec Ossuary. From Wikipedia, Photographer: en:User:ChmouelAh, who am I kidding? This place is just a horrible example of what I believe should NOT be done with the remains of loved ones.

I don’t want to see my dear cousin’s skull sitting on an end table with the figure of a snake crawling out of its mouth. I don’t want the see my best friend’s leg bones making up the structure of a chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

I wonder how anybody could want to see something like that.

It’s easy for people, it seems, to distance themselves from fellow humans if they’re separated by a few hundred years.

Perhaps they pretend they’re not actually people, or they tell themselves the “bones” they’re seeing belong to folks who really didn’t mind becoming decorations once they passed on.

Realistically, people who died back in the 1200s and the few centuries that followed were living through some tough darn times.

They were times when the little things mattered – when people who were born to the right families were able to live and eat with some peace. Others were enslaved and lived short lives filled with cold and hunger.

I ask myself, is this all the respect we can muster for these ancestors of ours who paved the way for many Europeans who followed?

It’s 2016 now, some 500 years after they started noticing they had too many people buried in that cemetery.

I think it’s time we consider taking all those poor souls down off the walls and chandeliers, removing the skulls from the cute little cherubs they’ve got sitting around like decorations, and treating these remains of humans with some respect with a massive funeral and burial or cremation.


EdsPhotoEd Munger
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association